Sometimes, the best meals are timeless.
That’s the philosophy when it comes to polenta, especially in northern Italy. It’s often eaten in the fall and winter when the weather cools down and is served as the first course—the primo—of a multi-course Italian meal. Corn came over to Europe in the middle of the 16th century, which is when the modern version of polenta began. Prior to that, there is some suggestion that chestnut flour and barley were both used to make a similar dish. Italians are so fond of the ingredient that they even have their own adage about polenta: “La polenta è utile per quattro cose: serve da minestra, serve da pane, sazia, e scalda le mani,” which translates to, “Polenta is good for four things: to make soup, to make bread, to fill you up, and to warm your hands.”